March 24, 2010

Buddhist Violence, American Rappers and Sexy B*tches

It seems that Sri Lanka has refused to issue American R&B singer Akon a visa. Akon is slated to perform there in April, but after Buddhist activists took offense and began protesting one of his videos.

Read the full story here.

Hundreds of protesters stormed (really?) the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the concert’s media sponsor, injuring four employees, smashing windows and damaging parked cars. The protesters said the video for Akon’s song Sexy Bitch, which features scantily clad women dancing in front of a statue of the Buddha, had offended members of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese ethnic majority, which is mainly Buddhist.

Anusha Palpita, director-general of the government’s Information Department, said:

“Taking into consideration the allegations levelled against the singer Akon, the government has decided not to issue him a visa to conduct the concert in Sri Lanka.”

“Apart from this particular controversial video clip, some of Akon’s lyrics are not suitable for public articulation”

When the main allegation against someone was that he “defamed Buddhism in his music videos”. You really have to start wondering. I would expect something akin to a viseo of Akon flinging feces at a statue of the Buddha or violently stating that he plans on repeatedly stabbing Buddhist monks for this sort of [over]reation. And the statement that the lyrics are not for public consumption. Well…why is the government making that decision?

The incident illustrates the influence on the government of hardline Sinhalese nationalists, who have often used violence against those they consider to be offending Buddhism. In 2004, a hand grenade attack killed two people and wounded 19 at a concert by Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood star, in Sri Lanka. The attack was blamed on Sinhalese nationalists who were offended that the concert was being staged on the first anniversary of the death of a renowned Buddhist monk.

Or this example:

A Buddhist monk was arrested on Wednesday after he stormed Thailand’s parliament security office with an AK-47 machine gun and took approximately 20 people hostage.

Officials said the monk, Pramaha Sayanjerasutho, 37, was escorted to Dusit police station for questioning.

Pramaha had gone to the security office at around 8:30 am (0130 GMT) and taken out an AK-47 machine gun hidden in his robes.

He took approximately 20 parliamentary staff in the room hostage and invited around 10 members of the press inside to interview him.

Very often Buddhism gets equated with gentle, peaceful and non-violent but it does need to be expressed that this is simply untrue.  Buddhist practitioners are just as succeptable to mob mentality, racism, sexism and foolish behavior (and this is foolish behavior on the part of the Sri Lankan government).

From his essay “Buddhism and Violence” Bernard Faure states that

In whatever countries Buddhism has became official ideology—whether Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia or Tantric Buddhism in Tibet or East Asia—war has often been zealously waged. At present, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, for example, have openly taken up the struggle against the Tamil freedom fighters. What is true of Japanese Zen holds equally for other forms of Buddhism. Long before its lyrical metaphysical flights exerted their charm, Buddhism took hold first and foremost as a tool for protecting States.




Read 8 Comments and Reply

Read 8 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

John Pappas  |  Contribution: 10,420